Verizon sues Rochester NY over attachment, tench, overhead fees

Verizon has sued the City of Rochester, NY in federal court claiming that Rochester’s fees for attachments, trenching, overhead, etc. exceed the FCC’s presumptive caps, and therefore sink to a prohibition of service.

How silly. How very silly.

I suspect this little law suit will go exactly nowhere while the big show is playing out in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Verizon law suit against Rochester turns on the outcome of the main 9th Circuit case.  The 9th Circuit case is where local governments around the country are suing to set aside the FCC’s Small Wireless Facility Order. It’s that Order that Verizon cites as the basis for its suit against Rochester.

I will not be surprised one bit when the judge in the Rochester case puts the brakes on that case to await the outcome of the 9th Circuit case.

Here’s Verizon’s complaint:




Verizon Buying Comcast? Good idea, sort of.

Rumors are circulating that Verizon is considering buying Comcast.  Largely ignoring the horrible public policy and anti-competitive issues, the deal would make sense from various technology standpoints.


  • Comcast runs one of the largest Wi-Fi networks in the U.S.  Verizon needs Wi-Fi as a critical element of offloading traffic from its cellular/PCS/AWS networks.  Cellular nodes, like Wi-Fi nodes can be installed and provisioned in less than an hour.
  • Comcast has significant cable passings in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Colorado, California, and Washington State, with smaller footprints in New Mexico, Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona, and the Twin Cities.  Comcast is already where Verizon wants to be for 5G+…150 feet from the customer.
  • Comcast has largely been able to deploy Wi-Fi nodes without local governments applying their various wireless ordinances to those installations.  Verizon will argue that installing Wi-Fi/5G+ nodes should be exempt from local wireless ordinances.
  • Comcast’s backhaul and inter-city fiber network is national and dynamic.  Verizon can utilize that network to increase its own inter-city transport capacity keeping much more of its wireless traffic on its own end-to-end network.
  • Verizon can (and should) do what Comcast has not: Get rid of coaxial subscriber drops in favor of wireless drops, which would tremendously reduce the cable network in-home maintenance and labor force costs for Verizon.

There are other reasons why a Verizon purchase of Comcast would make sense, not the least of which would be to battle back against AT&T’s purchase of DirecTV and the Time Warner programming assets.

Will Dish Network be next to fall?  How about SiriusXM?

In this new Tumpian era, what would have been unthinkable a week ago might need some rethinking.


PS… Attention Verizon and Comcast legal departments: The combination logo at the top of this page is a parody to illustrate my opinion piece for commenting and criticizing purposes only. Really. Don’t get bunched up over it.

Sprint(ing) Forward to 800 MHz LTE

The FCC has granted Sprint’s request to allow it to deploy LTE services in its 800 MHz band assignments.

This is a big deal, both for Sprint and for LTE deployment as the de facto 4G-ish standard.

The FCC’s decision (found HERE) allows Sprint to re-purpose its Nextel 800 MHz spectrum (the old iDEN band) and bond it with Sprint’s 1900 MHz spectrum to create a ‘super LTE’ channel (my term, not theirs).  Mathematically, this is represented by the complex formula:

zoom(800,000,000hz) x zoom(1,900,000,000hz) = ZOOM(WOW)MBs

Okay, maybe that’s not a legit math formula, but you get the idea.  Bonding two high speed data bands is better than having two stand-alone high speed data bands.

This is a huge deal for Sprint as it continues to decommission its old Nextel iDEN services and sites as it deploys its Network Vision project.  Network Vision is Sprint’s ‘one-box-does-all’ base station solution that allows it to communicate on multiple bands and using multiple signal protocols for both itself, and for electronic collocators it will charge to deploy on its upgrade cell sites.

For the LTE community, the Commission’s decision signals its intent to relax the existing technical rules that current prevent deployment of 4G-ish services in the cellular and ESMR bands.  AT&T and Verizon will likely be even happier than Sprint by the ruling as it will give those firms a legal path forward to phase ultimately out cellular on 860 MHz and bond LTE with their other band assignments, especially 700 MHz.

(Bonding 700 MHz and 800 MHz services makes a lot of technical sense as the signal propagation of those two bands is similar, where the propagation of bonding 800 MHz to 1,900 MHz are dissimilar.)

For LTE-supporters, the Commission’s ruling is a much clearer path forward for dominance of that communications scheme given that the Commission’s door-opening will make LTE and LTE band-bonding even more important.


Might Apple buy Sprint?

Okay, it sounds wild, but let’s look at this for a bit…

Sprint has committed $15B to Apple in connection with securing rights to market the iPhone to Sprint’s subscribers (let’s not talk about the newest Apple product, the iHeatingPad). That’s a lot of cash, and I’ll bet that Apple’s contract leave virtually no room for Sprint to get out from under the weight of an 800 pound Apple.

At the same time, the $9B Sprint was expecting from LightSquared seems to drifted away. This raises very serious questions about the future of Sprint’s touted Network Vision upgrade. As a result, Sprint’s plans to shutter some 30,000 cell sites, relying on the Network Vision project to make it possible…must have dropped to ‘maybe’ status, too.

Clearwire. That word has turned into a blackhole of cash for Sprint, and Google just helped further devalue Sprint’s, ah, majority investment by dumping the Google-held shares at a 90% write off. WiMax is not Sprint’s path forward–LTE is. Clearwire may be too late to Sprint’s party.

Sprint’s Board of Directors last month vetoed Dan Hesse’s plan to buy MetroPCS (for a 30% premium, no less). That puts Dan Hesse’s future outlook at Sprint at a 30% deficit (others say that number is even worse). Will there be new blood on the head of the pin, much less new confusions over the direction the pin is pointing? Hey, how about T-Mobile buying MetroPCS?

This month, Sprint seems to have tried…and failed…to get a network sharing agreement with T-Mobile, according to the Wall Street Journal. I guess that shots a hole in my idea about a SprinT-Mobile merger.

Let’s not forget the grandest of Sprint’s Grand Experiments: Nextel. Oh, you want to forget about that? Likely Sprint does, too.

With research firm Sanford Bernstein dropping its rating on Sprint, citing that Sprint might visit BK land, the Bad News Band keeps marching on. For a thoughtful look at this particular issue, see the SeekingAlpha story of March 20th by clicking here.

Now let’s consider Apple.

Apple has attained the status of a ‘mythical creature’ that can seemingly devour all that blocks it path.

Apple has been fanatical about controlling, to the n-th degree, every element of its users experiences with all of the Apple devices. It controls the look and feel of the user experience, and via the App Store all of the applications on iPhones that have not been subject to a jailbreak, as well as iPads of various operating temperatures.

It must peeve Apple that it decided to confine its iPhone and iPad devices originally on an exclusive basis to AT&T to run on that carrier’s less-than-robust and less-than-adequate-capacity network, and one that actually gave up spectrum in the failed T-Mobile love affair.

Now, at least, Verizon subscribers have a better chance at being able to enjoy close to 3G speeds with their iSomethings.

Oh, yes, there’s that cash reserve thing for Apple. It’s sitting on more cash than the U.S. Treasury, and since last Summer it has been the most valuable company you’ll find in the U.S., and maybe anywhere in the entire galaxy.

If Apple thinks about it, it can have its cake and eat it, too: Buy Sprint, fund and complete Network Vision, deploy 4G at real 4G speed, and dump all of the Sprint phones save for Apple iSomethings. Using the software defined radios of Network Vision, Apple can actually build a wireless network that is optimized for data (but still including the voice app that defines LTE). Siri may be the first step to Skynet, albeit with a programmed sense of humor. (How much wood can a woodchuck chuck? See here.)

For Apple, a Sprint purchase would yield it monthly cash flow that can be put back into expanding and optimizing the “Apple Wireless” Network Vision. And given Sprint’s majority ownership in Clearwire (and the 106ish MHz Clearwire controls in the U.S.), Apple would have a real playground to expand data capacity and speeds.

Maybe Apple might make apply the principles of the iTunes Store to Sprint to shift the marketing of Sprint services to the faceless online monolith. Buy a phone and activate service online. Forget about pins dropping.

It just seems right for Apple to continue its quest to control everything its users see and do with the iSomethings now and in the future by controlling its own data delivery network. At the same time, it can keep feeding iSomethings to Verizon, AT&T, and any other carrier that can’t afford to be left in Apple’s iDust.

With the passing of Steve Jobs, the direct minutia-level control he seemed to exert on Apple (at least according to Isaacson) has also passed. This may free up the current management of Apple to take the leap (no, not Leap Wireless) to controlling even more of the user experience, but from a new distance, all without asking “WWSD?”

Of course, Apple might buy T-Mobile instead–or as well–and do more or less the same thing, but that’s a thought best left for a future post.


Text the U.S.A. From (the Backseat of) Your Chevrolet

Not only can OnStar (the in-vehicle mobile phone system) unlock your car doors, tell you where to go, help you deliver a baby, and propose to your girlfriend, soon, OnStar will also pull up your favorite movies as well as text your mother, all at the same time.

OnStar is showing off its new navigation and entertainment system called CUE, which will consist of a large touch screen in the center of the dash, in the backseat, or maybe even embedded as a heads-up display in the windshield (no, not really – as far as I know the technology is only available in the movies).

CUE is being positioned to work much like an iPhone or any other touch screen SmartPhone.  In fact, OnStar has plans to open up its application programming interface (API) software so that third-party developers can create new apps for CUE.  (When visiting the ‘CUE Store’ does one need to actually drive there?)  In the same vein, CUE will be built on a software upgradeable platform that will use soft keys on-screen to access apps, movies, maps, your cup of java (well, at least order it, anyway).

How great would it be to turn your car into an iPhone?  Let’s not worry about drivers playing Angry Birds on their way to work, for now anyway.

As all early iPhone adopters have learned, a great device needs a fast and reliable network (thanks to AT&T for that often frustrating lesson). OnStar is NOT going down that same road.

In a vote of confidence to both its speed and overage, OnStar is heading to a deal with Verizon to use Verizon’s shiny new, if still not completely reliable, LTE network (see

The speed of Verizon’s LTE network will be important for the navigation functionality of CUE to deliver real time high resolution maps that will make the DVD driven and stand alone navigation systems obsolete.

Expect CUE to also provide destination photos, and linked web content.  Going to a restaurant? See their menu on the way, and order your appetizers before you arrive.

Coming soon to a new Cadillac near you!

In a couple of years, it’ll migrate down to your Chevrolet.


Buddy, can you spare $9B?

Please feed the T-Mobile Kitty. (Photo illustration by Jonathan Kramer)

So T-Mobile, recently left at the alter by AT&T, is now looking for $9B to build out a LTE network that can compete with AT&T.

T-Mobile has a great start towards its goal when you consider that AT&T gave it $4B as a parting gift.  If you have some loose change or small bills, please drop it in Carly’s cup.  Heck, all she needs is another $5B.  Easy!

$9B’s a lot of investment money simply to split the market even more than it is, today.  It’s also interesting that T-Mobile seems determined to join the rest of the world by going to 4G via LTE rather than via its current industry-isolating path of HPSA+ (also known as “it’s 4G if we say it’s 4G”).

I continue to believe that T-Mobile will either join forces with Sprint (can you say “SprinT-Mobile”?) or T-Mobile will acquire one or several smaller regional carriers.  How about “Hello…Hello…Hello” for example.  A dark horse: Maybe Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile’s German parent will sell off its entire worldwide wireless network to some small country…or maybe to Microsoft.

Only time…and money…will tell.


AGL Bulletin: Lawsuit Tests Mettle of FCC Shot Clock

The following is from today’s edition of the AGL Bulletin. A subscription link is below the article.

Verizon Wireless has filed a lawsuit against the Town of Irondequoit in the U.S. District Court, Western District of New York, concerning inaction on a proposed cell tower in the upstate New York town. It appears to be a good test case for the FCC’s shot clock, which is designed to ensure municipalities don’t drag their feet in processing cell tower applications.

“I was at the FCC when the shot clock order was issued, and I know that the sincere intent was to spur broadband deployment by creating a more efficient tower siting and collocation review process. Companies prefer to work things out with zoning authorities and lawsuits really tend to be a last resort,” said Monica Desai, Patton Boggs, former FCC official.

Back on June 18, 2010, Verizon Wireless filed an Application for Special Permit with the Town Board to replace an existing 20-year-old tower and equipment shelter at a local fire department with a new monopole and shelter, which could be used for collocation of the fire department and county public safety. The original tower is 62 feet in height with an antenna that reaches 82 feet AGL.

Seven months into the process, Feb. 11, 2011, the Town filed a positive declaration under New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act, which triggers the time-intensive development of an environmental impact statement. A little more than a month later, Verizon Wireless filed its suit.

Verizon Wireless accused the Town of “unreasonably and repeatedly delaying” it from providing service where a gap currently exists. The carrier noted language in the Telecom Act requiring municipalities to act on requests to build wireless facility in a “reasonable time period,” and the FCC’s definition of that time period at 90 days for collocations and 150 days for new builds.

Both the Town Board and the Town Planning Board met in workshop sessions, followed by a public hearing last July at which the public voiced its concerns. The application was addressed again in a Town Board workshop in August, and a wireless consultant was subsequently hired to review the proposal’s technical aspects. A week later, Verizon Wireless supplied supplemental information, and another public hearing was held at which, according to Verizon Wireless, the same group of residents voiced the same concerns as they had at the earlier hearing.

In September, Verizon Wireless performed two days of crane/transmitter testing to fulfill requirements of the consultant’s report. The tower was scheduled for a vote in September but a supplemental report by the consultant caused an adjournment until October. Two more public hearings were held in October, but the vote was postponed to November because Verizon Wireless had not completed the analysis of its testing.

Also in October, the consultant supplied two supplemental reports requiring additional information from the carrier, a repeat of the crane/transmitter testing by an independent party, the effect of the tower on property values, the structural stability of the tower, sound levels from the on-site generator, title issues on adjoining property and the provision of data services on the tower in addition to voice.

On March 18, 2011, Verizon filed suit against the Town. “The defendants have engaged in unnecessary delays and have unreasonably failed to take final action on the application,” Verizon Wireless wrote in its complaint. “The delays … have put the fire district site application into its 273rd day as of the day of this complaint; far more than the 150-day limit previously prescribed by the FCC.”

But Verizon may face a Shot Clock Order problem of its own making, according to Jonathan Kramer, a lawyer and RF engineer representing governments.

Kramer notes that Section 332(c)(7)(B)(v) of the Telecom Act allows an aggrieved party to file suit “within 30 days after such … failure to act” by a State or local government.

The FCC’s Shot Clock Order clarified when the 30 days begins. Kramer cites that portion of the Order, which says “Specifically, [the Commission finds] that a ‘reasonable period of time’ is, presumptively, 90 days to process personal wireless service facility siting applications requesting collocations, and, also presumptively, 150 days to process all other applications. Accordingly, if State or local governments do not act upon applications within those timeframes, then a ‘failure to act’ has occurred and personal wireless service providers may seek redress in a court of competent jurisdiction within 30 days, as provided in Section 332(c)(7)(B)(v).”

Kramer points out that Verizon admits in its complaint that it waited 273 days from the date of its initial application filing to commence the lawsuit against the Town. Under the shot clock order, the lawsuit should have been filed on or before the 180th day. The delay in filing its lawsuit, according to Kramer, may deal a knockout-blow to Verizon’s shot clock claim.

If you are involved in wireless and tower siting/planning issues and don’t already subscribe to Above Ground Level (AGL), then you should subscribe today at


VZ, VZW Steps Up For Japan

Verizon Offers Free Calls to Japan From March 11 to April 10

Verizon Wireless Customers Can Text to Japan for Free

NEW YORK – March 14, 2011 – To help its customers contact loved ones in the aftermath of Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, Verizon is enabling most wireless and residential customers to make free calls to Japan through April 10.

All Verizon Wireless post-paid customers will receive free calling to Japan from March 11 through April 10.  Post-paid customers are those who receive a monthly bill from the company.  In addition, Verizon Wireless post-paid customers will receive free text and multimedia messaging to Japan for the same time period.

Verizon Wireless has also made it easy for customers to text donations to a host of nonprofit organizations responding to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.  Customers can easily make a $10 donation by simply sending a text message and may choose from nine organizations aiding those in need in Japan.

All calls made from a Verizon residential landline to Japan will be rated at $0.00 per minute, from March 11 through April 10.  Customers with Verizon World Plan (300, 500 or unlimited minutes of long-distance calling) can call Japan without using any minutes from their time-allotment blocks.

Additionally, Verizon Prepaid Phone Card charges for all long-distance calls placed to Japan from the U.S will also be waived from March 11 until April 10.

The company is also providing FiOS TV customers who are not subscribed to TV Japan with free access to the channel, through March 17.  The channel location is 1770.

* Only long-distance usage charges associated with calls made from residential landlines terminating to wireline or wireless destinations in Japan will be waived from Mar. 11 – April 10.  All other fees including taxes, surcharges, monthly recurring charges (MRCs), minimum spend levels (MSLs), monthly minimum charges (MMCs), etc will continue to apply.  Post-paid calling card charges to Japan will also be waived.

** If long distance calling fees were charged, credits will be issued in a future bill statement.


Free AT&T In-Home Microcell?

Findlaw is reporting that AT&T Wireless is offering some of its customers a free in-home microcell (sometimes called a femtocell) … for customer who repeatedly complain about dropped calls.

According to Findlaw, “If you have complained to AT&T about your coverage or have used their application to report dropped calls, you are likely to be contacted by AT&T regarding this offer. It’s something to consider if you haven’t already decided to switch to Verizon. Customers report already beginning to receive letters with offer codes in the mail. If you have difficulty with service at your home or office but haven’t received an offer in the mail, it’s probably wise to call AT&T and give them a little nudge.

The AT&T “Mark the Spot” app, available at the iTunes Store, is your ticket to reporting AT&T service problems.  It’s also the apparent way to get AT&T’s attention that you should get one of their free femtocell.

This is an interesting tool for many reasons, not the least of which is that some smart municipal attorneys might very well look to ‘discover’ this data when AT&T files a law suit in light of a government’s siting permit denial.

…I’m just say’n…

Anyway, I do think that this is an interesting way to try to maintain customers who might be thinking about jumping to Verizon’s iPhone service (even with its data speed and multitasking limitations, but that’s a different posting).

For AT&T’s information on its in-house microcell/femtocell, CLICK HERE.


Verizon’s iPHONE is here, sort of…

Today, as expected, Verizon announced the imminent availability of the super-duper Verizon iPhone.

(Pssssst….Don’t tell anyone, but…) The first generation of VZW iPhones won’t be able to access Verizon’s 4G-ish Long Term Evolution (“LTE”) network.

Essentially, the early adopters of Verizon’s iPhones will have a three-speed transmission.

Fast at three speeds?

Yeah, sort of, but not as fast as the follow-on versions of the Verizon iPhone that will include access to the optimized 700 MHz LTE band.  The next generation will have the 5-speed transmission with overdrive, and will have access to the carpool lanes.

Me? I think I’ll wait for the real zoomer when it’s announced in 4 or 5 months.

Let others buy the first generation of VZW iPhones and pay to replace them later.  I’ll shell out my money only after the V.1 beta-testers have done their thing.